Tag Archives: Kibosho

Confessions of a German Perfectionist

© Claudia Hehr Photography

Banana trees in the village of Kibosho-Umbwe, Tanzania

Expectations are a powerful thing – and will mostly set you up for disappointment. Being a German perfectionist has certainly equipped me with an unhealthy dose of “trying to control the world around me.” Now, given the fact that I have traveled and worked with Artists for World Peace two years ago, one would think I should’ve learned my lesson. But memories fade quickly.

So let me humor you a little and show you what my crazy photographer mind dreamt up in anticipation of our roughly 2.5 weeks in Tanzania:

Expectation: I would shoot an amazing documentary about AFWP’s work in Kibosho while simultaneously capturing award-winning still images.
Reality check: It is downright crazy to think you can shoot a true documentary in a little over 2 weeks with NO budget and NO crew (with the exception of our amazing producer/editor Cathy Jackman and recorder-of-sound Miles Nasta). It is also not humanly possible to give equal focus to stills and moving images…so I had to make peace with the fact that this trip would be mostly about videography for me. I’d like to thank Cynthia Rockwell, our writer and passionate aspiring photographer on the team for stepping up on so many occasions to photograph whatever I didn’t have the time to !

Expectation: I would have plenty of time to reconnect with the locals and play with the children at Good Hope orphanage.
Reality check: Downtime was very rare and it was somewhat of a challenge to stay focused on filming when you really just want to put the camera down and spend some quality time with the kids.

Expectation: I would get plenty of sleep, eat well plus of course stay healthy and strong like a bull.
Reality check: What sleep ? We got up early 90% of the time, stayed up late to back up and review the footage we shot each day. Despite my crazy vitamin regimen, I and almost everyone on the team got sick at some point of the trip. Lessons learned for me: There is a reason why you should take your full course of antibiotics, you CAN live on rice alone and raw garlic is my new secret weapon.

Why am I telling you all this ? I’m not sure, probably to give you an honest peek at what it means to work in a third world country. The one thing I know more than anything – it was so worth it !

It is a truly gratifying experience to work your behind off, pro bono, under less-than-ideal conditions. Despite certain challenges the “documentary team” worked together beautifully and we were able to capture very important footage and photos for the foundation.
The woman who inspired each and every one on our team to give it their all is AFWP’s founder Wendy Black-Nasta. To know her means to want to be involved. At least for me. She has dedicated her life to changing lives around the world, one child at a time. Wendy has taken me on quite a ride since I met her a few years ago…she’s become my “crazy” Jewish mom, my mentor, my biggest fan, my spiritual guide, my best buddy to have hilarious sleepy-drunk conversations with and so much more !

I’m more than honored to be part of her family at AFWP and will always be grateful to her for introducing me to my “second home” in Tanzania. The people of Kibosho continue to have a deep impact on my life and I feel very much at peace when I am there. It is very humbling to witness a community with a lack of need for consumption and “first world problems.” There is an obvious presence of contentment and pure joy of life in the village that makes you question your oh-so-different lifestyle in a city like New York.

Maybe it is the “Hakuna Matata” philosophy and the slow pace we like to call “African time” that I am drawn to – maybe despite or simply because it is so utterly different from my upbringing in Germany.
This trip has pushed my boundaries on many levels – I have grown as a photographer, videographer and person. I have learned to let go of perfectionism and controlling the uncontrollable. Thank you to the rest of the team for helping me get out of my comfort zone and think outside the box sometimes. T
his year’s team of 11 volunteers has turned out to be an incredibly complementary mix of individuals all pushing together to change the world a tiny bit, bringing their unique skills and talents to the table. We laughed, we cried, had meltdowns, got drunk on life and South African wine and had way too much ginger tea…

I cannot wait to do it all over again.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

Local girls in front of their home.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

Living conditions for many of the poor villagers – simple wooden huts with dirt floors with little protection from the elements.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

Local children keeping us company at the health center.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

Local children keeping us company at the health center.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

Gilo – a local girl who attends Kindergarten at Good Hope – she stole our heart in a second !

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

Josephine Machuwa, founder of Good Hope Orphanage with one of the new girls Esta, comforting her while she was telling us her story.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

Neema getting a fire started to heat up water so the children can wash themselves.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

Delfina washing clothes behind the orphanage.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

Man on bicycle on a typical “street” in the village.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

Villager carrying goods from the market.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

Locals waiting outside of the eye clinic for their turn to get an exam.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

A woman waiting for her eye exam – you can clearly see cataract forming in her eyes, something I have noticed on many villagers.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

Janice, one of our local helpers at work checking in and giving numbers out to patients.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

Roe Dennis pre-examining patients with the help of eye charts at the clinic.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

Dr. Carol Gordon examining Bahati from Good Hope.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

Dr. Christian, a local eye doctor came on board and will continue to provide a monthly clinic for villagers plus perform cataract surgeries sponsored by AFWP.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

Beautiful woman from the village proudly showing me her new eye glasses.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

A Massai man getting interviewed by us about the impact his new glasses will have on his daily life.

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

The guerilla documentary team hard at work – producer Cathy Jackman interviewing a local nun who runs a small clinic; Miles Nasta taking care of the sound and yours truly operating the camera (and providing some fill light). Photo credit: Kelly Mushi

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On our last day in Kibosho I was able to give out some of the shirts from my fundraising efforts which have been generously donated by friends. Photo credit: Cynthia Rockwell

Tanzania 2014 - Artists for World Peace

One of my favorite places in the village where we were filming the two soul sisters – Wendy Black-Nasta, founder of AFWP and Josephine Machuwa, founder of Good Hope.

I hope you enjoyed my story and images…I will continue to add more images on my website and facebook page later on this fall. The footage I shot is now in the caring hands of our editor Cathy Jackman who I am sure will work her magic over the next couple of months, putting it all together.
Asante sana – thank you very much for taking the time to read my blog…

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Fanta, Fanta

It is Sunday night around 10 PM in Tanzania and I can’t believe we’ve been here since Thursday evening. After a relatively smooth trip from Boston via Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro we got picked up by Josephine who runs the Good Hope Orphanage Center. Somehow I had forgotten that they drive lefty here, so that made for a somewhat tense drive in the dark when you constantly feel like you are on the wrong side on the road…very confusing.
I spent my first night at the hotel in Moshi dreaming about Coyotes – who knows what kinds of animals were really out there. Friday we went grocery shopping, bought fabric and had our first awesome coffee in town. Although I normally don’t drink Soda, Miles got me totally hooked on Passionfruit-Fanta…

We were able to do a quick pit stop at the orphanage in the evening – which is higher up in the village – about 45 minutes on dirt roads…just to unload all the supplies, donations, etc. It gets dark around 6.30 PM here – and boy does it get dark fast…not a lot of street lights and no traffic rules either, LOL.
That brings us to Saturday. Since the older kids are still in school we are using the time to get a lot of meetings done, overseeing construction, looking at progress, etc. We drove back up to the village to talk to the builders in charge of the corn grinding machine and also went to visit some of the children’s former homes. I’ll be able to show all those pictures once I am back home at the editing desk…for now here’s a little taste of village life for you…

It’s great to see how much impact Artists for World Peace already had at the orphanage and in the village, but there is so much more to do. I realized today that for every project that gets completed, there are ten new ones that need to be done. But the people here are such hard workers and they appreciate every little help they get. We are getting hugs and smiles on every corner and even though communication is sometimes tough, we seem to understand each other.
Sunday is a big church day around here but we were presented with a very special treat today…an invitation to an African wedding in a village about an hour away. It was already amazing to be invited to be part of the ceremony – but everybody treated us like royalty. According to the pastor we were the first “Mzungu” in his church – a great honor for all of us. We tried to dress the part, but were still a bit underdressed with our filthy sneakers and flip-flops :-)

With that said I need to finish up here…there is still work to do…backing up images, recharging batteries and so on…
I will try to post as often as I can but be patient, we have busy days ahead of us…

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Welcome to my brand new Tanzania blog.

This summer I will travel to Tanzania for 2 weeks to try to make the world a teeny bit better. I will be documenting the work of non-profit Artists for World Peace at an orphanage in Kibosho, Tanzania. AFWP is a small group of people but they’ve done some amazing work in Tanzania and many other places all over the world. If you would like to find out more, please visit their website.
For the last month I’ve been busy crowd funding the Tanzania-Project to cover my trip expenses and necessary photo equipment. It’s been an exciting ride, first time for me to try to raise a large amount of money and it was a huge success !
There is a video and lots of info on the fundraising website which will stay online even though fundraising is completed. Please check it out on Indiegogo.
For the most recent updates on the entire trip, please subscribe to the blog via email. I’ll keep you in the loop about all the good stuff before, during and after the Tanzania adventure.
Love, Claudia

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